A period of “massive resistance” to the High Court’s 1954 desegregation order ensued, mostly in the Deep South states. Their defiance was stoked and encouraged by members of the U.S. Congress, including 10 Senators and 27 Congressmen from the Southern states, who assailed the High Court’s Brown decision as an “abuse of judicial power.” Their call was for “states’ rights,” through the invocation of a doctrine of “nullification and interposition”: that is, for the states as sovereignties to “nullify” federal laws and to “interpose” their own segregationist laws to stop the desegregation mandate of U.S. Supreme Court.

During the period of the 1950s and 1960s, a litigation and “grassroots” multi-racial civil rights campaign (demonstrations, marches, massive civil disobedience, boycotts, sit-ins, “freedom rides”) and voter registration campaigns) pushed for desegregation and blacks’ civil rights. Blacks and their white allies took to the streets and the courthouses to enforce the Supreme Court’s decree against de jure segregation. Civil rights workers, black and white, were victims of mob violence, assassinations and lynchings.